Girls Just Want Tonys!
- By Sasha Klaver
- Photo Courtesy of Kinky Boots/Pantages
She is truly unusual…and in more ways than one! Cyndi Lauper is a style renegade; a lyrical master; a musical maven; a civil rights activist; an iconoclast; and now, add to that a mold-breaking, history-making Tony winner. She has always shined, but perhaps never as brightly as with her name in lights on Broadway. And now LA audiences will finally get their chance to see Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fiersteins’ powerhouse musical, Kinky Boots.
The show opens on Charlie (Stark Sands in the original cast, Steven Booth on U.S. Tour), the son of a shoemaker, off on his way to London to marry his gorgeous but image-obsessed fiancée, Nicola. Unwilling to take over his father’s company, Charlie moves off to the big city to start his new life in the cosmopolitan capital. But when he is called back home unexpectedly because of his father’s death, he finds himself the beneficiary of the shoe factory, Price and Sons, including its pending bankruptcy. After meeting the workers Charlie is at a total loss for how to salvage the business, and ready to give up. Enter Lola (Kyle Taylor Parker on the national tour, replacing Tony-winner Billy Porter from the original Broadway cast) – a fierce drag queen who Charlie meets on the rough and tumble streets after an altercation one night. After learning that the drag market’s need for a quality stiletto — strong enough for a man — is sorely under served, Charlie gets an idea of how to transform the factory into a Godsend for a very niche market.
From the opening number to the finale, Kinky Boots is a heart-warming, hilarious work of theater genius, which could not have come at a more perfect time. It is the pinnacle of Lauper’s more-than-30-year career spanning music, television, film and now The Great White Way. Lola’s entrance with the sassy “Land of Lola” gives audiences an introduction to one of the stage’s most unlikely heroes (or heroines, for that matter). “The Sex is in the Heel” thrills with its seductive vocals and neo-disco grooves, and by the time the show gets to the touching and heart-breaking ballad, “Not My Father’s Son,” the audience is completely under Lauper’s spell, ready to scream along with the first act’s closing anthem “Everybody Say Yeah.” The end of the show – coming far too quickly – serves up a closer that truly brings the audience to its feet with “Raise You Up/Just Be.”
At the outset of awards season, it looked like UK-import Matilda was going to be the show to beat. But after serious early-season accolades, Kinky Boots ended up collecting a season-high 12 Tony Award nominations, the most of any contender in the battle for musical theater’s highest honor. But it didn’t stop at nominations. Boots took home the highest actual wins as well; capturing six Tony Awards including Lauper’s Best Score, and the coveted Best Musical. Porter won for Best Actor with his praised performance; John Shivers for Sound Design; Jerry Mitchell for Choreography and Stephen Oremus for Orchestrations.
More than a story about drag queens and sparkling stilettos, Kinky Boots is a story about finding your own way, not being scared to be who you are, and coming to realize that sometimes the expectations that are thrust upon us have more to do with others than they do about ourselves. It has been called “the very model of a modern major musical” by one critic, and almost universally praised by anyone who has sat in the audience, including yours truly. The music is trademark Cyndi Lauper. The story, although set in Britain, is a classic American tale of turning what seems to be a hopeless situation into a success, and the show itself is a toe-tapping, roller coaster of a ride to boot.
Strap on your finest footwear and make sure you are in the audience when the curtain goes up on Kinky Boots at the Pantages Theatre from November 11 – 30.